As a parent, your primary goal is to keep your children happy, safe and healthy as they grow. Having access to a qualified healthcare provider such as a pediatrician is essential to give you peace of mind if any issues were to arrive.

That said, as your child ages, their medical needs will change. You’ll want to ensure that they are receiving the best care they can, which may mean finding alternative health care providers.

A Physician Examining Her Patient

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Finding your child’s next doctor may feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to. Finding a family doctor or new healthcare specialist can be as easy as booking through Medimap, where you can find and book the right care for your child in moments.

But when is the right age to switch your child from a pediatrician to your regular family doctor?

No Right Age

The good news is that there’s no real mandatory or perfect cut-off time to switch your child from a pediatrician to a family doctor. Many pediatricians set their own age restrictions and often care for patients until they are 18-21 or older.

There are many reasons that a pediatrician may continue their care for a patient during and after their teens, such as treating patients with chronic health concerns such as congenital diseases, asthma, or other conditions best handled by someone who knows the patient’s history.

An estimated 40% of children in Canada are cared for by pediatricians versus 60% who see a family doctor. Both practices are equally qualified to help your child with routine care like vaccinations, infections, colds, and general checkups.

That said if you find your child has a prominent or recurring condition, sticking with your pediatrician unless otherwise suggested may be a good idea.

Other Factors to Consider

On the flip side, switching your child over to your family doctor has the added benefit of your practitioner knowing your entire family. By having your entire family use the same doctor, they may be better able to notice factors that can affect your child’s health, such as possible hereditary issues or changes within the home that can affect a family’s health.

Switching your child to your family doctor while they are younger will help both your doctor as well as your child build their relationship and trust together. This will also make it easier (and more likely) for your child to come to them as they grow older.

Another thing to consider when making your choice is the availability and demand of a family doctor or pediatrician in your area. Some smaller rural areas, for example, may have more limited options for pediatricians, and many smaller towns have family doctors double as pediatricians, while larger cities often have more options.

One factor that may be helpful in your decision-making process is to check whether your family doctor takes on-call or after-hours calls and see how it compares with your pediatrician.

The Bottom Line

In the end, choosing whether your child sees a pediatrician versus a family doctor is a personal choice not bound by age limits. Factors should be considered, such as whether your child has a complex medical history, their relation to their doctor, the advice of your healthcare professional, and, of course, your personal preference.